Running the Adventure

Mince Pies & Murder is a whodunit game so it is important that the Game Leader can answer the players' questions and understand the motivations of the suspects. To make it as easy as possible, descriptions are provided of all the important rooms and all the clues are clearly highlighted. Each non-player character has a section on their background and their plans for the sleuths.

As the Game Leader, you will need to read through the adventure a couple of times to familiarise yourself with all the details.

On the Day

Read the players' briefing aloud and let each player select which sleuth they wish to play.

Players' Briefing

Set some time in the 1920s, Mince Pies & Murder is a classic detective mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Raymond Chandler. Each character is a famous detective in their own right, with a string of high-profile cases stretching back many years. These elite sleuths have been brought together by a mysterious invitation to spend Christmas Day with a notorious gangster.

The adventure will start with the characters arriving at the English village of Lower Wrexham on a dark and snowy Christmas Eve. From there, they will travel on to Cromford Manor.

Each Sleuth is matched to a potential killer and, if there are less than six players / sleuths, remove the staff members who aren't needed. If obvious staff members are missing (such as the butler) their absence can be explain as having been trapped by the snow whilst collecting supplies from town or having rushed off to tend a sick mother.

It will be useful for the Game Leader to keep track of where each character is in the house at any given time. The easiest way to do this to have miniatures or tokens representing each character. Mark a piece of paper with each location and move the tokens when required. Keeping track of movements like this is helpful to the players but also for you, the Game Leader, as it easier to decide when and where the murder attempts will take place.

During the Game

There is a series of fixed scenes during the adventure that provides a structure to the narrative and allows the Game Leader to control the pace of events. In between the scenes, characters will choose their own course of action requiring the Game Leader to ad-lib.

There are no hard and fast rules about when to give out what information. Each clue is marked with a guide to difficulty (e.g. easy or hard) and it is up to the Game Leader to decide when to reveal a particular tidbit. Players should be encouraged to use their advantages when hunting for clues. As a rough guide Easy clues can be found on a roll of 7+, Moderate on 10+ and Hard on a 15+. In playtesting, giving out too little information was more of a problem than too much.

The Game Leader should take into account the player's description of their action (e.g. if they say they are looking under the bed, they should find whatever is there no matter how badly they roll). The appropriateness of the advantages being played is also important. The Kid Reporter's Little White Dog advantage will make finding a bone easy but will be less useful when studying the household accounts.

If the players do find themselves at a dead end (or indeed going too fast), it is a good time to throw in another murder attempt. This provides more clues and yet at the same time can sow confusion.

Running the Non-Player Characters

Unlike the detectives, no character sheets are provided for the the staff and Jimmy. When they need to make a dice roll the Game Leader should 'eyeball' the situation and make an arbitrary decision about how many dice they should roll.

For activities that the staff have prepared for, e.g. lying to the detectives or making their murder attempt, roll 3d6+3. If they are called on to do something unexpected, such as Mrs Baxter firing a gun, roll 2d6+2. For activities where the staff member would logically have a reasonable skill, e.g. Newgate trying to punch someone, roll 4d6+4.

Jimmy Cheese is a master criminal so for many activities he will roll 4d6+6, but his poor health prevents much physical activity. In the unlikely event he ends up in a fight, he will be rolling just 1d6+1.


Mince Pies & Murder is a homage to the classic age of detectives and whodunits and players are encouraged to go with the tropes of that genre. The implausibility of the set-up and crime along with the police's unquestioning acceptance of the sleuth's brilliance are very much part of the style. The genre can also lend itself to humour; the detectives are so familiar to us they have become caricatures of themselves and can easily be played up for laughs.

However, these detectives and the books they appeared in originate in times when different social attitudes prevailed. This is especially true regarding gender and race issues. The author recommends ignoring this historical baggage and playing the characters with modern attitudes and sensibilities. The quest for historical accuracy is no excuse for racism and bigotry at the gaming table. The Game Leader may wish to discuss these issues with players before the game starts. Some consideration should be given to whether it is appropriate for those people playing the Eastern Wisdom and The European characters to put on silly voices.

Killing The Detectives

Though the staff wish to kill the detectives, it is the nature of detective fiction that sleuths don't get killed. They are the heroes after all. A successful attack on a detective will leave them 'dying' (see the 6d6 RPG Lite rules for details). The would-be murderer will be disturbed before they can deliver a killing blow or simply believe the detective is already dead and flee the scene.

Detectives who end up in a 'dying' state can be revived without much difficulty. However, the detective loses their green Life advantages and is encouraged to role play being seriously injured.

Mundane Equipment

It is very much in keeping with the style of the game for characters to pull out exactly what they need at the right time. Players should be encouraged to add mundane equipment to their character as required. Detectives will have access to state-of-the-art forensics (which in the 1920s was a fingerprint kit) and weapons if necessary. Players may also think laterally and their characters may just happen to have a useful book with them, such as a Guide to Snakes of America.


caleb gillombardo, 2011/01/30 04:13

the concept of initiative isn't given any real rules for implementation. as this game doesn't need a strict combat order, it may not be needed, but providing some guidelines could be useful. for example, simply shuffling the cards of any characters involved in conflict or some sort of comparison based on Life Cards.

Chris Tregenza, 2011/02/01 13:36

I left it out because it wasn't really needed but it is worth a sentence just to give the GM an idea.

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open/oneshots/ultralite/mincepiesmurder/running_the_adventure.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/08 13:39 by tregenza
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